Hours after the House narrowly voted to pass the farm bill on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came to the floor and said that 17 senators had signed a cloture motion to move forward with H.R. 2, “an act to provide for the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023 and for other purposes.”
The cloture vote on the Senate version of the farm bill will be held about 6 p.m. on Monday.
The cloture motion sets the stage for the Senate to consider the farm bill next week in advance of the July 4 recess, as McConnell promised at the Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill markup.
There have been rumors that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is demanding a vote on a payment limits measure, had placed a hold on the bill. But a Grassley spokesman said he had not.
“Sen. Grassley didn’t put a hold on the farm bill,” the spokesman said. “If he did, it would be public on the Senate calendar.”
The House vote was a cliffhanger, and there promises to be more drama as the Senate takes up its bill, and even more if the Senate passes it and the two bills go to conference.
The House passed its version of H.R. 2 by a vote of 213 to 211 on a revote after the bill failed in May. The bill passed Thursday because 10 more Republicans, mostly members of the House Freedom Caucus, voted for it than in May, but 20 Republicans still joined all Democrats to vote against it.
Four House members did not vote — Republicans Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Democrats Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey.
An aide to Aderholt, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, said Aderholt intended to vote but was in another meeting and the vote was gaveled down before Aderholt could get to the chamber.
After the House vote, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., congratulated House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and said he looks forward to a conference on the two bills.
“I congratulate Chairman Conaway on successfully navigating his farm bill through the House,” Roberts said. “I look forward to working with him and his colleagues in conference once the Senate passes our farm bill. Our farmers and ranchers need certainty and predictability. They are counting on us.”
If the Senate bill passes, the most difficult issue in conference is expected to be the differences between the two bills over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“We will have stronger work requirements in the conference report than I guess what might be in the Senate bill,” Conaway told reporters after the vote, Politico said.
But when asked if he wanted President Donald Trump to weigh in on the SNAP debate, Conaway said, “I don’t want to do anything at this stage that makes Pat’s job harder. I would love for our bill to be passed by the Senate and sent to the president, but that’s not the rational way to think about it.”
But Trump tweeted, “Farm Bill just passed in the House. So happy to see work requirements included. Big win for the farmers!”
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., repeated his pledge to support the Senate bill in conference.
“The partisan approach of the majority has produced a bill that simply doesn’t do enough for the people it’s supposed to serve,” Peterson said in a press release.
“It still leaves farmers and ranchers vulnerable, it worsens hunger and it fails rural communities. The only upside to its passage is that we’re one step closer to conference, where it’s my hope that cooler heads can and will prevail. The Senate’s version isn’t perfect, but it avoids the hardline partisan approach that House Republicans have taken here today, and if it passes, I look forward to working with conferees to produce a conference report both parties can support, which is the only way to get a farm bill enacted into law.”
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